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Council Summaries - June 4 and 18, 2024

Special Council Meeting, June 26

Individuals and media outlets are encouraged to contact the City Administrator for additional details or clarification on the following material. Regular meetings of the Crete City Council are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall; Council Standing Committees may meet prior. View a list of City Officials and current council and committee meeting agendas.


The next Crete City Council regular meeting will be on Tuesday, July 2 


Summary for Crete City Council special meeting - Tuesday, June 26
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments.

Tom Crisman, Council Member Ward 2, was absent.

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council June 18, Finance Committee June 18, Parks and Recreation Committee June 18, Public Works Committee June 18
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Payment of claims against the City

The Council held a Public Hearing on the Addition to Licensed Area from PWR & DWD Rental Properties, LLC DBA Old Main Bar & Grill. Mayor Dave Bauer explained Old Main at 11th and Main has a beer garden area on the north side of their building and they are reapplying in order to expand the area from the size the previous restaurant used.

The Council voted to 5-0 approve the Addition to Licensed Area from PWR & DWD Rental Properties, LLC DBA Old Main Bar & Grill.

The Council held a discussion on a contract with Crete Area Medical Center:

Stephanie Boldt, President and CEO of Crete Area Medical Center, spoke on updating the ALS (Advanced Life Support) agreement with the city: The original agreement was done in 2013 to provide paramedic services and has not been changed other than some updates in 2019. From a legal standpoint, we all know some things need to update from time to time; also we would like to update the compensation structure. This updated proposal has gone through Bryan Health’s legal department to make sure it is compliant with all regulations and wording is relevant. Some notes: responsibilities of the hospital are discussed as there has been some discussion with the fire department on how we work together. We have a good relationship with Crete Fire and Rescue but there are things in the current contract that we don’t abide by and those things need to be cleaned up. There should be a provision that if the department has enough staff on the call, they can call the ALS service off the call. 

  • Currently the compensation structure reflects that CAMC is paid for the service provided on calls; we staff a paramedic every day of the year, 24 hours a day. We would like the city to adopt the new structure and pay CAMC a flat fee every year: $90,000, or $7,500 a month with a 3 percent increase each year. In return there would be no additional compensation for a number of calls. This would include medical transfers as well. The current payment structure is challenging: the city has paid CAMC an average of $18,000 a year each of the last three years for a rotating staff of four paramedics on call for shifts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 
  • This is a county-wide service, however, we are starting this discussion with Crete because is has the largest ask for the services. Other towns in Saline County will have an identical agreement with a proportional amount based on services used. There is an agreement with the county, which provided the first vehicle; we will ask the county board of commissioners to help fund the next vehicle. ALS with a CAMC medic averaged about 150 calls a year; they also do BLS (basic life support), with an EMT; transfers are a significant amount - about 100.
  • This is a CAMC budget item as we are owned by Bryan but operate independently; when we look at this paramedic service, we lose a lot of money on the program. With the proposed amount, CAMC is still shouldering 50 percent of the salaries and benefits we would pay. It is a benefit to CAMC as well to have a paramedic in the emergency room. We have bought two of the vehicles over the course of the program and all the equipment for about $200,000. We are not asking the communities to take on the whole burden but to increase the compensation for the 24/7 availability. This service line is not a revenue producer, but CAMC knows it is essential to the communities.

Council member Dan Papik said he thinks it’s important to know we all do what is best for the community and along with that we are blessed to have the best hospital and the best volunteer fire department in the state of Nebraska by far. We should all be proud of those facts. In the past three years the city paid on average $18,000 per year for the paramedic services and to go to $90,000 in a budget we have is challenging in itself and we have to take a hard look at this.

Boldt said she recognized the significant increase in the amount, but thinks it’s fair and really based off of call volume. The city is getting 4.5 full time employees in this agreement.

Council member Anthony Fitzgerald asked about the breakdown for communities county-wide only so the council and city can understand what the numbers are to make the program run for the area. 

Boldt said she did not have the county breakdown available, but Crete is 53 percent of the service area including calls and transfers; Wilber is 32 percent; Dorchester is 8 percent; Dewitt, Western, and Friend are also served. Some of the smaller communities might have a flat rate based on smaller call volume.

City Administrator Tom Ourada said this was only for discussion at this point and the city doesn’t have full budget information yet. If the city’s valuations go up, the city’s levy goes down; if we wanted to do everything we wanted, we can only spend 3.5 percent. Municipal equalization doesn’t go up. Last year our budget balanced and we had nothing left over; this year we may, but we picked up another police officer. We might be able to do this, we just don’t know yet and we’ve had conversations with Stephanie. The fire department has not seen the agreement yet. City Attorney Anna Burge has begun her review with possible changes.

Boldt said there are two asks here: 1) to update the agreement to align with how the program functions; and 2) to update the compensation structure. We have not had conversations about the terms of the agreement with the fire department because we have to sign the agreement with the city. We have talked with the department in terms of functionality. We are unique in how we work with the communities in the county. There is a video coming from the Nebraska Rural Health Association about this relationship and other counties are looking to model this program and partnership.

Council member Ashley Newmyer said this is an awesome partnership with a great hospital and fire department to work together and it’s important that we also work with other communities in the county to make this available to residents. 


Summary for Crete City Council regular meeting - Tuesday, June 18
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments.

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council June 4, Legislative and Economic Development Committee June 4, Public Safety Committee June 4, Public Works Committee June 4
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Payment of claims against the City
  • Mayor's appointment of Scott Kuncl to the Historic Preservation Commission

The Council voted 6-0 to approve Change Order #008 from Kingery Construction Co. for the Crete Isis Theater Renovation. This is a credit of $3,577.

The Council voted 5-0 (Papik abstained) to approve payment of claims to Crete Ace Hardware in the amount of $7,072.89.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2203 Amending Public Nuisances; weeds, grasses, and worthless vegetation. City Attorney Anna Burge explained this includes a correction to a latin term for a plant and pulls back language from prior ordinances to cover other weeds which may be designated as noxious weeds in the future by the state director of agriculture.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2204 Amending Camping Permitted Area rules to include electric vehicle charging.

  • City Administrator Tom Ourada explained this is a solution to people wanting to charge vehicles in the camping spots at Tuxedo Park; he said the park was on a website indicating plugging in an electric vehicle to charge at Tuxedo is free. This use was made a part of the camping ordinance where camping with an electrical hookup is $15 a day.
  • Ashley Newmyer, chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said they recommended this action to recoup some costs and felt this was a good solution.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2205 updating the non-union pay scale. Ourada said this is a change for the Parks Groundskeeper II job description to Parks Facilities and Groundskeeper to better reflect the duties and raising the bottom end of the pay scale to make it more consistent with other labor positions; the starting hourly wage went from $21.31 to $22.00, with modified steps in between.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2206 Amending Special Designated Licenses to include a fee. Ourada said this allows the city to charge $40 for the documentation on SDL applications; it was brought to the city’s attention by the Liquor Control Commission that other cities charge for the SDL application.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve an amendment to the fee schedule including a mileage rate to reflect current cost of specialized department vehicles, amusement devices, and Special Designated Licenses. Ourada explained that for the first fee change mileage rates don’t reflect the value of some specialty vehicles, such as those valued at $250,000, as an example. The new or adjusted fees for amusement devices discussed in May and June and the SDL documentation fee were also included in this action item.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Mid-America Health Reimbursement Arrangement Amendments. Savannah Anderson, HR Coordinator, said the amendments are due to the following: 1) IRS limits were raised for 2024 on high deductible health plans; and 2) changing the plan renewal to July 1.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Special Event Permit Application SE24-03 from the Crete Chamber of Commerce for a Fireworks Display. The Crete Chamber of Commerce fireworks display on July 6 falls outside the city’s approved dates for fireworks (June 28 - July 4) and is approved as a special event.

Petition - Communication - Citizen Concern:

Officer Reports:

Reports may be given by Officers, Departments, Committees, or Council members concerning the current operations of the City. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

  • Gary Young, Police Chief reported that he and the Saline County Sheriff have started dirt work at the gun range in preparation for other updates; the range is grass and a berm with sidewalks and we would like to further improve this area; we’ve had help from the Street Department; we’d like a more useful training area similar to the fire department’s;
  • Liz Cody, Parks and Recreation Director: 
    • successful RipTide swim meet on June 15 with all 60 events completed; kudos to city staff and volunteers;
    • Crete Diamonds softball tournament was scheduled, but had some games rained out;
    • U.S. Forest Service intern is helping with tree inventories;
    • open position for Parks Facilities and Groundskeeper; Aaron Steffensmeier is leaving with 25 years experience;
  • Jessica Wilkinson, Library Director:
    • she gave a packet of information with library circulation numbers, future programming, etc.
    • she is weeding materials, audio, books, fiction and non-fiction for a public book sale this summer;
    • annual Summer Reading Kickoff is Saturday, June 29, with activities from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. and food trucks from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Savannah Anderson, HR Coordinator, introduced new electric groundsperson Mike Tretheway, who started June 17;
  • Tom Ourada, City Administrator:
    • next week, there is the first meeting of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, a special council meeting, and nuisance hearings; the RTSD (Railway Transportation Safety District) meeting was two weeks ago to set a budget and plan;
  • Mayor Dave Bauer explained there is a special council meeting on Wednesday, June 26 at 6 p.m. with contract possibilities and more information on a proposal the hospital is floating; the fire department will also weigh in.

Meeting adjourned.


Summary for Crete City Council regular meeting - Tuesday, June 4
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments.

Kyle Frans and Ashley Newmyer, Council Members Ward 3, were absent.

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council May 21, Finance Committee May 21, Legislative and Economic Development Committee May 21, Parks and Recreation Committee May 21, Public Works Committee May 21
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Payment of claims against the City
  • Mayor's appointment of Dr. Tom King to the Historic Preservation Commission 

The Council voted 4-0 to approve Change Order #003 for the Crete Isis Theatre. City Administrator, Tom Ourada, said this change order was approved at a May council meeting and this is the paperwork associated with it.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the Crete Emergency Operations Plan.

  • Ourada said they engaged Steve Hensel, the city’s former Emergency Management Coordinator, in order to accomplish this update. Hensel explained in the prior Public Safety Committee Meeting this updated plan supports the Saline County EOP and has been reviewed by city leadership for some corrections and changes to organizational structure as needed. An Emergency Operations Center would outgrow the basement of the police station and would now move to the Crete Carrier Community Room at the library. The last update to this plan was in 2021.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve East 22nd St. Change Order No. 2. Ourada said this was a deduction of $24,154 in the final costs of the project.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the East 22nd Pay Estimate No. 9 from General Excavating in the amount of $51,662.02. This is the final payment for the triple box culvert project.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the Principal dental and vision plans and rates. Human Resources Coordinator Savannah Anderson explained the vision plan is staying the same and two dental plans are offered; the first option has a $1,000 deductible and the second includes a child orthodontia option with an increased rate. Dan Duren, from Benefit Management, presented renewal details during committee discussions held prior to the council meeting.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance renewal agreement. 

  • Duren presented details on renewal rates for the city’s low deductible traditional plan and high deductible HSA (Health Savings Account) options; rates had a slight decrease and plans include rates for non-union and union employees. He said initially renewal rates came in at an increase, however through negotiations with BCBS they were able to secure a better renewal rate. 
  • Ourada elaborated on this. LIGHT originally sent notice that the BCBS Health Insurance rates were going to increase by over 14%. He and Finance Director Wendy Thomas questioned this action with reasoning they shared with the Committee. They then asked Benefit Management if another quote was feasible in this time frame. Benefit Management was working to put one together and queried BCBS extensively on claims history etc. The result was a communication from BCBS that rates, instead of +14% were going to -.4%. Tom attributed this to the work Benefit Management did for the City after questioning the rates.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the Mutual of Omaha Critical Illness and Accident Insurance renewal agreement. Mayor Dave Bauer said on the life insurance side of this coverage, it increased the age cutoff to 70 from 65.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the part-time and seasonal employee drug testing policy.

  • Ourada explained this is an abbreviated plan to test on suspicion only, with strong verification needed on any cause presented. Since this can in involve minors employed seasonally, it also includes a parental consent option.
  • Dan Papik asked about situations where the parent doesn’t consent to a drug test for their minor child after cause is presented. Ourada said the minor employee would be terminated and that it was a situation they talked about a lot in regards to drafting this policy.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the Access Agreement between the County of Seward and Crete Police Department.  Police Chief Gary Young explained this gives the police department access to Seward’s server network; Crete PD holds the license for system programs and Seward County manages the hardware.

The Council voted 4-0 (Papik abstained, Mayor Bauer voted yes to fill a quorum) to approve approving payment of claims to Crete Ace Hardware in the amount of $98.76.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the method of paving assessments. Dale Strehle, Public Works Committee chair, said they recommended a method of sharing the costs of sidewalks in upcoming paving projects in order to remain consistent with what the city has done previously; in a project where a sidewalk can only be put on one side of a street, the costs of the sidewalk will be shared by properties on both sides of a street where the project occurs.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve gap paving projects on north side.

  • Ourada said the committee and council were in on earlier discussions; two priority projects are in the one and six year street improvement plan: 1) 21st Street from Norman to Oak and Oak from 21st to 22nd; 2) Oak from 20th to 21st; one project was asked for by people who want to develop one block and will complete a small area of gap paving opportunities in that area.
  • Strehle said the committee recommended moving forward and to ask for plans and specifications and to create the paving district for these two projects.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve alley paving between Norman and Oak Ave. Ourada said this project was petitioned in by an adjacent property owner who owns 50% of the frontage. The Public Works Committee was concerned about other property owners and asked the petitioner to talk to everyone on the block because the other owners together could not have petitioned this project out.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve Council Member Anthony Fitzgerald as the alternate for the Seward/Saline County Solid Waste Management Agency.

  • Ourada said they currently do not have a designated alternate and Council Member Dan Papik is the primary representative.
  • Strehle recommended Anthony Fitzgerald as the alternate.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve Apace's request for permission to construct on city property. Apace (formerly Region V Services) operates on city property. Ourada explained they approached the building inspector about a parking lot expansion; with new development coming in to use/connect to the existing Locust Street next to the Apace building, not as many cars may be able to park on Locust and a parking lot expansion would create the space they need.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the Welcoming Certification Agreement between Welcoming America and the City of Crete. Ourada said the city has considered this item for a while; it deals mainly with the Community Assistance Director’s office and its clients. There is nothing to do that the city is not already doing and this designation can enable the city to apply for grants to help with challenges the city is currently experiencing, including jobs and housing. The mayor talked with the Community Assistance Director about details and possibilities.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve amending the Master Fee Schedule. This was a request from the Parks and Recreation Director to add a rate for private swimming lessons; signup is now available on RecDesk in line with other recreation and pool-related programs

Petition - Communication - Citizen Concern:

Officer Reports:

Reports may be given by Officers, Departments, Committees, or Council members concerning the current operations of the City. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

  • Gary Young, Police Chief:
    • the department responded to call about a stabbing; the victim was not seriously injured but Officer Audrey Arbuckle was able to deploy K9 Hunk to track a suspect to a location where officers recovered crack cocaine and another person at the scene had stolen credit cards; Hunk and Arbuckle did a great job; this cleared cases for another jurisdiction;
    • he commented on Community Assistance Director Marilyn Schacht’s efforts to assist the department in how to reduce some frequent traffic violations and hit and runs; she promoted a course to help prepare drivers for the rules of the road, which may be new to people from other countries; officers helped and were able to interact with community members; Marilyn was a great host;
  • Jessica Wilkinson, Library Director:
    • first food truck Thursday is June 6 with Chi-Style Kitchen from 4-7 p.m. in the library parking lot; details are on the library’s Facebook page and on the website;
    • she is working with Youth Services Librarian Maridza Vasquez on a new program for the fall - 100 books before Kindergarten;
    • the next Crete Reads! Book is “No Two Persons,” by Erica Bauermeister; it was chosen by the program committee;
    • family puzzle race is June 11 - 12 families signed up;
  • Liz Cody, Parks and Recreation Director: 
    • Wildwood Pool is open; pool memberships are increasing; Infant and Toddler swimming lesson registration is now open; Water Aerobics starts on Monday with daily or season passes; the swim team competed at their first meet of the season with much success;
  • Dan Papik, Council Member Ward 1, thanked everyone from the city who comes to these meetings and listens to information;
  • Tom Ourada, City Administrator:
    • we interviewed a recent Doane graduate who didn’t want to leave Crete yet; he applied for a position and will be starting soon with the Street Department;
    • nuisance properties are going through the process; we are doing five or so a month, we have filed some with county court, but a great number have started to clean up voluntarily before hearings are involved;
    • we will have the pool bathhouse and filter house roofs fixed for about a third of previous low bids; we’ll wait until the end of pool season and ran the proposal by the building inspector for completeness;
    • sales tax is good this month with no big refunds; about 7.5% ahead of where we were last year; 
    • staff members will be at a Finance Conference next week, Wednesday-Friday.

Meeting adjourned.